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Washington Debrief: Congressional Leaders Query GAO on VA’s EHR Modernization Efforts

June 6, 2016
by Leslie Kriegstein, Vice President of Congressional Affairs, CHIME
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Congressional Affairs

CHIME Board of Trustees Chairman Testifies Before House Committee on Cybersecurity

Key Takeaway: Marc Probst, Chairman of the CHIME Board of Trustees appeared before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to discuss cybersecurity responsibilities at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Why It Matters: The subcommittee hearing focused on the HHS Data Protection Act (H.R. 5068), a bill introduced by Representatives Bill Long (R-MO) and Doris Matsui (D-CA). The legislation would direct HHS to alter the department’s organizational structure so that the chief information security officer (CISO) no longer report to the chief information officer (CIO), instead they would both report to the Assistant Secretary for Administration within HHS.

In addition to discussing HHS’ cybersecurity responsibilities, the witnesses covered a number of cybersecurity challenges facing the industry. CHIME’s comments focused on the value of coordination of information security efforts, regardless of an organization’s reporting structure. CHIME also called attention to the efforts underway within HHS as directed by the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 which directed HHS to set up an internal coordination plan across the department, which is due to Congress by December 2016 as well as the Health Care Cybersecurity Task Force also included in that legislation which will meet through March 2017 to promulgate recommendations for the industry to improve its cybersecurity readiness.

Mac McMillan, chief executive officer, CynergisTek, Inc., a member of the AEHIS Advisory Board, also testified at the hearing. 

Congressional Leaders Query GAO on VA’s EHR Modernization Efforts

Key Takeaway: Congress remains concerned about the status of efforts underway at the Department of Veterans Affairs to modernize their electronic health record system, the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA).

Why It Matters: The letter sent by the leadership of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform Information Technology Subcommittee, Representatives Will Hurd (R-TX) and Robyn Kelly (D-IL) is just the latest demonstration of interest in the modernization of the VA’s electronic health record system. The letter requested information on the VA’s efforts to modernize VistA and request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a study on the VistA modernization project.

The Senate Appropriations Committee subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, chaired by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) is planning to hold an upcoming hearing on the progress of the VA’s EHR, VistA and the Department of Defense’s health record system. The hearing was scheduled for June 8, but has been postponed.

Federal Affairs

CHIME’s efforts demonstrate commitment to further consumer engagement in their care

Key Takeaway: CHIME participates in ONC Annual Meeting

Why It Matters: CHIME CEO, Russ Branzell, joined HIMSS, AMIA and the Partnership for Women and Families at the ONC Annual meeting to discuss ways to better engage consumers in care delivery through the use of technology. Branzell highlighted CHIME’s partnership with Open Notes to expand the reach of this program aimed at giving patients access to clinical notes from patient visits, a partnership first unveiled during the White House Precision Medicine event in February in which CHIME participated. He also highlighted CHIME’s efforts to tackle the issue of patient identification through the CHIME Healthcare Innovation Trust’s National Patient ID Challenge, which will be awarding a $1 million prize for the winning solution that can accurately identify patients and match them to their medical records. This week CHIME announced two concept blitz winners; each will receive a $30,000 prize. CHIME remains committed to locating solutions improving patient and caregiver engagement.